Light It Up, Up, Up! Light It Up, Up, Up! (But please, not on Fire!)

Speaking of things at Berrybrier that were in obvious need of immediate attention, during my first walk through the electrical at this place scared me! I went into the purchase of the house knowing that I would be dumping several grand (not a small number!) into updating the dangerous wiring! I snapped this picture with my phone at the initial walk through in order to have photographic evidence of my nightmares. I don’t know exactly what’s going on in this picture, but from what I can tell, there are three fuse boxes here and there are not enough fuses to power this house.

Berrybrier | Basement Wiring

I became quite acquainted with these fuse boxes as between refinishing the floors in the kitchen and the roof/dormer addition we blew a fuse every few days before the electricians could get in here. I also found out that the oven was on the same fuse as the dryer so the two could not be run at the same time! Needless to say, this wiring was very concerning!

The other terrifying thing with the electrical was the hot mess that was the exposed wiring in the basement. Things were spliced together all over the place by some previous DIY-er without much thought to safety or fire prevention. I had dreams of plugging in a vacuum and burning the house down, which just really makes you feel at home in a new place.

Berrybrier | Electrical

You could tell at some point, a previous owner had updated the knob and tube wiring to a modified mid-century DIY version of wiring. I couldn’t tell if that was reassuring or concerning when the electricians told me that. What I did know is I needed to get things rewired around here asap!

The thing about updating electrical is in order to pull the permit, the city gets to force you to do a few other updates as well. But they sure don’t pay for those additional requirements! One of the things they required as part of the electrical permit was updating and moving the electrical meter to bring it closer to the front of the house. Originally the meter was on the driveway side of the house near the between the master bedroom and bathroom windows. Since the electrical came from a pole on the street though, the wires had to snake along the entire edge of the house under the eaves. It looked about as lovely as the spliced wires in the basement, though the electricians assured me it was far more safe. Which was not reassuring at all, really.

Berrybrier | Electrical Meter Original

With the bathroom demo’ed, the electricians were able to come in and whip up brand new wiring in there as well as cleaning up everything in the basement and installing the new electrical meter. Moving the wires from the street was the first thing they tackled, it was a big change! Since the wires came from the pole on the opposite side of the house from the driveway, they originally snaked across the entire house before they could creep along the eaves. It was not my favorite look.

Berrybrier | Electrical Pole

The city, however, authorized new wiring that would come from the wires that snake through the big walnut tree by the end of the driveway. This meant it could be far more streamlined with a straight shot to the driveway! They added a new pole that jutted through the new roof and installed a new meter. One unfortunate thing about this new location is how dang close the meter is to the front door. Now it’s one of the first things you see on the house and it’s not a location I could dictate at all. This shot below was nabbed before the city came to change the wires to the new entry point, but you can see the new wiring. Now although there are no more wires running along the eaves, in order to get the entry to the circuit box squared away they had to run a conduit pipe halfway down the house. This is because the front half of the house only has a crawl space (no full basement).

Berrybrier | Dormer

Electrical is time consuming too! The guys came out for 3 full days plus one half day to get this all worked out. They updated me daily on all the terrifying discoveries they made – like the wiring to the garage was through a 1950’s extension cord hidden in the poured concrete behind the house and spliced into other interior wiring (AHHHH!!!). My team was super nice, but it took more handholding than I would have thought. In an ideal world, I would have been there to answer questions and generally more available to the electricians. It all worked out in the end, but it could have saved me some hole patching. Ha!

Now, electrical work is not all that pretty or exciting; it’s one of those hidden things that makes your house tick though! The final product cost me a pretty penny, so appreciate some afters okay?! First, check out how light and bright my basement is with some cheap lights picked up at the Restore! It’s so bright, my picture turned out truly horrendous from the blow out.

Berrybrier | Basement Light.jpg

This is a huge improvement over the dark dismal space the basement started out as when I bought the house though! Let’s start a competition for worst photo in this post, shall we? Entering this guy below — which while blurry and taken on an iPhone — shows how dark it was in this space before. The only lights were pull-cord, single bulbs scattered haphazardly throughout. You had to walk halfway down the stairs just to get to the first pull cord light! Now you flip a switch at the top of the stairs and a small sconce and the three big lights above come on, lighting up the whole space!

Berrybrier | Basement Before.jpg

And that crazy batch of wires above? That area is totally cleaned up now! There’s still an electrical box here, but the wires and crazy fuse box on fuse box are gone! The wire in this picture is actually cable wiring that’s been cut and needs to be removed (again on my to-do list).

Berrybrier | Old Wire Location

All the wires that were spliced together all terrifying and dangerous in the basement ceiling are now rewired and organized too. The ceiling is looking much more colorful and much safer now!

Berrybrier | Basement Wires

All these wires lead to the best part of the electrical work too! Look at this new circuit box, y’all! Not only is it labeled, but if something blows, I just have to flip a switch rather than going all the way to the store and buying a new fuse. It’s so amazing to have this and to be able to confidently turn off the electrical if I need to replace a light fixture or update an outlet. It’s a huge relief and it has a much larger capacity! No fuses have been blown since the electrical was upgraded.

Berrybrier | Circuit Box

Speaking of safety, the last upgrade at Berrybrier was adding a grounding wire to the house! Yup, nothing was grounded before. Yikes! Now this copper wire goes from the circuit box through the ceiling to the ground outside. It’s a vast improvement for safety!

Berrybrier | Basement Ground Wire

At this point, anyone reading this who’s had to do any electrical work before is counting the numbers in there head. Yes, this cost thousands of dollars, but this was money well spent, that I allotted for this even before deciding to purchase. There is nothing scarier than fire hazards in the home and old houses go up like kindling. The peace of mind I now have is priceless! But the electrical work was not at all! I spent about $8,500 on this project. This included:

  • updating and cleaning up all the dangerous basement wiring
  • adding new GFCI outlet, sconce, ceiling fan to bathroom
  • moving city electrical meter and rewiring all house electrical to new location
  • adding a new 200amp circuit breaker
  • adding new fan boxes in the upstairs bedrooms
  • replacing outlets in the upstairs bedrooms
  • installation of grounding
  • installing new grounded 30amp circuit for dryer
  • adding a sconce and 3 new light fixtures in basement, removing old fixtures
  • disconnecting power to garage and removing wiring between house and garage
  • adding a whole house surge protector
  • installing a dedicated grounded outlet for the fridge
  • Adding two outlets and an overhead light to the new dormer
  • adding new ceiling fixture at the top of the stair well with a switch be the bedrooms and a remote switch at the bottom of the stairs
  • Plus $200 – $300 in electrical permits pulled from the city

It did not include the installation of any of the fixtures which would have been another $1000 dollars, a bullet I wouldn’t have wanted to take even if it was $250. I don’t mind installing new lights, the electricians were shocked by that! They were also nervous about the liability of me installing my own fixtures, so definitely discuss this at length with your electrician before they start (I did not and it was confusing). Berrybrier isn’t burning down anytime soon though! This place is no longer a fire hazard! Which is a good thing since I came home last week to my sister blowtorch in hand toasting homemade marshmallow fluff on a s’mores cake she made! That’s enough fire danger for me!

 

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New Roof For Berrybrier + a Dormer!

Even before I bought Berrybrier, I knew the house needed a new roof. The listing actually mentioned this and – despite not seeing any leaks after a strong rain during escrow – it clearly needed to go. It was a hot mess of a roof in a city where waterproofed roofs are pretty dang critical. This was no DIY project my friends. It was time to bring in the professionals!Berrybrier | Roof.jpg

Although it’s not currently in vogue, I knew I wanted to replace the roof with another light colored shingle roof. The Portland summer sun is hot, hot, hot! When it bakes down on the house the upper floor becomes an oven of trapped heat. The lower level of the house manages to stay cool if it’s just a single hot day or even two hot days in a row, but any more than that and the house gets sweltering. A light colored roof can do wonders in keeping a house cooler. I picked Owen’s Corning’s Sierra Grey which I knew would go well with the exterior paint color I had in mind.

There was one other thing that I wanted to do when I replaced the roof though: add a dormer. The layout of the upstairs bedrooms with the stairwell made the house a perfect candidate for a dormer right at the top of the stairs. You see, when you walk up the stairs at Berrybrier there’s a large landing between the two bedrooms and across the landing from the stairs is a little door to a storage space. You can see the little crawl space door at the top here.

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Well a simple dormer added at the location of this crawl space could launch a huge amount of potential for Berrybrier. Adding a room in this space with a window would also allow more light into the stairwell. The future potential though is huge. A bathroom at this location would not only add incredible convenience to the upper floor bedrooms, but it would also turn this house into a 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom house effectively doubling its value from my purchase price. Equity, baby! It’s important!Berrybrier | Crawl Space

I went about interviewing roofers shortly after I bought the house and trying to draw up plans for a dormer to get approved by the city development department. That was stressful! And then there was the whole manner of finding someone who could build the dormer too. A couple weeks into my search I mentioned my need for a roofer to Erik from next door who – of course – had a guy. A few days later Rigo was at my house and he said he could build the dormer too. Woohoo!

After inspecting the roof, Rigo was able to tell me that it had the original cedar shingle roof below two layers of asphalt shingles. This meant, I needed a complete tear off of all three layers of roofing and a new layer of plywood sheathing before the new roof went on. Of course, this is about triple the work of adding a new asphalt single roof and thus about triple the cost. Oh the joys of homeownership!

Berrybrier | Roof Shot

Off to the computer I went drawing up plans for a dormer addition. It took me about a week of a couple hours work after my 9-5 job to complete the plans. I was able to go to the Portland Development Bureau’s homeowners’ night and get my drawings looked at after working hours. It’s a busy Thursday night at homeowners’ night and after waiting two hours I thought I would have to go home without a permit. Luckily, they squeezed me in right at the end and approved my plans quite quickly! Even better, Rigo and his crew were able to start work the same week I finally got permits for the addition of the dormer!

The first thing they did was rip off the entire roof! It was the very bitter end of last September at this point, but 2017 was a hot, dry summer and we managed to avoid any rain. I know, hard to believe it’s Portland, right? They spent about just a couple of days with a crew of 4 or 5 guys to rip off all three layers of roofing. The sheathing then took another couple of days. They layered waterproofing over the sheathing very quickly. They split the roof side by side and did demo, sheathing, and waterproofing on one side before moving to the other. This kept an assurance that just in case it did rain my house wouldn’t end up flooded! I wish I’d gotten a picture of this crazytown Frankenstein roof, but the guys did it so quickly while I was at work a basically blinked and missed it!

They did all of this work on the roof in the existing plane of the roof before on Saturday October 7th in the morning a crew showed up and cut a GINORMOUS hole in my roof! It was amazing to watch them just take a bunch of saws and just go at it! Here’s all the guys smiling once the hole was complete and they were ready to start the next phase of work.

Berrybrier | Whole in the Roof

Within just a few days, they’d built the shell of the dormer and completed the roof! I was amazed that just four days later the dormer went from a dream and a hole to an entire new room! From the outside, it looked like it belonged. I wanted an addition that looked intentional, like it could have existed from the beginning and this one had that vibe. Sure, it was only a shell that first week – just enough to keep the water out – but it felt right!

One thing I wasn’t in love with though? The dark black roof vents on the opposite side of the roof. They looked jarring against the light grey shingles and stood out way too much for my liking. I asked Rigo about them and he was quick to let me know they also made light grey ones (like were on the old roof) and he could switch them out in a couple of weeks. Yay!Berrybrier | Black Vents

Back to the dormer though! A quick couple days later and the dormer was sided and trimmed out to match the house. The guys finished up work on the interior of the dormer, adding appropriate studs and structural elements. The only remaining item was the window… which was on back order until November of course! Brrrrr! The weather was starting to get cold now and there was still a gaping hole in my house! A normal person would have selected a different window that was more readily available. But not me! See those green aluminum exterior wood interior windows? I was duplicating that in the dormer, no matter what!

Berrybrier | Dormer.jpg

This was a long phase of a crazy looking house, but wrapping up the new roof was a huge relief, despite the $12 grand now missing from my bank account, I felt like I’d really gained a sense of security knowing water wasn’t going to start pouring in one way or another. The dormer came in a 4k plus an almost $500 window. Both were huge investments in the house, the dormer obviously was an optional add, but the pricing felt right and the timing was good to ensure everything was waterproofed together.

Waiting on the window proved to be the most difficult thing due to the weather. The house was freezing! I slept in my sleeping bag in order to stay warm. The house felt like a stranger at this point because so much was going on. See that picture above? The windows were all taped off for painting, the new electrical meter and service had been rewired by the city, everything was happening all at once and boy did I have a thousand things to do! More on that soon…

Getting Down to Wood in the Kitchen: A Survival Story

Gosh, when you’re trying to DIY twenty million things around your house it’s certainly difficult to find time to actually live your life, let alone blog about all your projects. Terribly bleated, but let’s get into what I was working on last fall, shall we? I started writing this last October, when this was all fresh in my brain…

So, do you remember what my floors looked like when I moved into the house? Most of the house is the beautiful old fir that’s held up well and looks amazing. It was a huge selling point for me when I first toured Berrybrier. The living and dining rooms showcased some of the best floors I’d seen when touring houses.

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The kitchen and bathrooms however at Berrybrier though? Sheet vinyl.

 

Berrybrier Kitchen Before | Land of Laurel

And old decaying sheet vinyl at that! See how it’s all torn up in the corner? Here’s a picture a few weeks after I moved in once my mom and cousin Carla had spent an hour tearing off the wallpaper.

Berrybrier | Kitchen Before

The floors get even worse if you take a closer look. Flaking in places and worn away in others, this clearly had to go. This was clearly a health hazard. Luckily, I was pretty sure these floors weren’t asbestos which would have been a whole different ball game to tackle. By looking at the floors I could tell the first layer of flooring had gone in in the 40s or 50s and the second layer on top of the first looked like 1980s. My educated guess that I’d missed the asbestos era (1960s-1970s) was later confirmed by professional testing at a laboratory. If you’re starting a project like this of your own, start with the testing.

Berrybrier | Decaying Vinyl Floors.jpgThe first couple of weeks I had the house I debated what to do. Install sheet linoleum over the sheet vinyl? Install linoleum click flooring over the sheet vinyl? Some people were even rooting heavily for peel and stick vinyl tiles. I try to minimize my exposure to vinyl as it’s a fairly toxic product during all life stages: production, installed, and recycled/trashed. Plus vinyl has some nasty off gassing issues. Basically, I really wanted to avoid vinyl. Linoleum can be expensive, however, and I personally find it difficult to clean vinyl and linoleum since they are softer surfaces. Would linoleum be a good alternative in someone else’s home? Absolutely. I just wanted something else in this kitchen. I wanted tile or… wood. I wanted the transition between the kitchen and living room (below) to be less awkward!

Berrybrier | Flooring Transition.jpg

I turned to the air intake vent above. Under inspection, this vent when lifted showed wood floors running beneath the vinyl. Wood floors that looked to match the ones throughout the rest of the house… was this too good to be true?!

Being absolutely insane, my natural reaction to discovering original fir floors under layers of vinyl was to feel deeply in my soul that I had to rescue these wood floors. No matter what. They had to be saved; it was what was right for this house. Berrybrier deserved to be restored and I really wanted wood floors. Plus, I figured using existing wood floors had to be cheaper right? I started “planning” my project to save the floors. Let’s just say I went into this project completely naively. Like almost idiotically so. I was running on pure determination and a dream of rustic wood kitchen floors. I thought I’d have the project complete in a weekend. I thought I’d be moving on to the next project in just a few days. Boy, was I so very wrong.

 

My kitchen was functional and decent-ish looking before this project. I’d dressed up one side of the kitchen and I’d bought a used stove for $50 buck from my next door neighbor, Erik. I went out and bought supplies for the first weekend of the kitchen floors mission on a Saturday morning: hazmat suits (such a sexy look), gloves, goggles, air respirators, two hand scrapers in varying sizes, and a lot of plastic to tape off the various doors leading to and from the kitchen. Even though the vinyl wasn’t asbestos, I planned on treating it that way. It was time to transform the kitchen and it had to get uglier before it could get nice.

Berrybrier | Kitchen Function.jpg

My mom was in town to help and we spent the first part of the day taping off the many doors: bedroom door, bathroom door, basement door, stairs door, and the living room opening. That took at least an hour, so it was already past noon when we truly got started, but we had a kill-room worthy of Dexter ready for our plan of attack!

Berrybrier | Mom Hasmat Suit.jpg

We began at the stairs, knocking down that pathetic little banister first (see second picture) and then removing the metal bracing at the stair noses. That was all extremely positive and went very quickly. I was happily surprised to discover there were actual wood stair treads with proper rounded nosing beneath the sheet vinyl! I had been expecting unfinished plywood with flat edges and nosing… That was probably the last happy moment for the next five weeks. But dang, did the site below excite me!

Berrybrier | Stair Noses.jpg

Yes, I said five weeks. Five very long and painful weeks. The floors certainly took longer than a quick weekend. After exposing the stair nosing we spent the rest of that day working slowly with the hand scrapers on the stairs. Progress was extremely slow. Luckily for me, I live next door to another fixer upper! The house next to mine is owned by a contractor working hard on his own big project (and doing a much better and more informed job that I). Erik is kind enough to come over and help me figure out what to do. He must think I am a complete idiot since I always a mess, but still he’s patient enough to lend a hand and point me in the direction of the right tool, which is what he did that first evening.

You guys, there is such a thing as a floor scraper. Somehow, I did not know this. This was a major idiot moment and I am dying a bit inside just remembering it. Erik came over and saw the disaster we’d created and lent me his floor scraper and of course it worked a million times faster than what we were previously doing.

The next day we woke up, fixed our plastic which we’d had to remove to use the bathroom and go to bed, ate a quick breakfast in the dining room turned kitchen, and got to work. Using the floor scraper I was quickly able to remove the entire top layer of sheet vinyl from the floors. Yes, I said top layer. Yes, there was a second layer beneath it. Yes, am cringing as I write this.

Berrybrier | Kitchen Floors.jpg

The second layer of sheet vinyl was much more difficult to remove. The top layer had a thin (and, as we discovered, water based) layer of glue holding it to the lower layer. You could fairly easily pull off this upper layer in strips and sheets. The bottom layer of sheet vinyl was a bitch. A thick layer of black tar based adhesive was holding it to my glorious, original, fir wood floors. In many areas of the kitchen I was able to get the both layers of sheet vinyl off but not the tar adhesive. The floor was still taunting me though, because in a few spots I could get both off exposing the hardwood floors beneath! But, in some I couldn’t remove the bottom layer of sheet vinyl or the adhesive at all.

Berrybrier | Scraping Kitchen Floors.jpgWe picked up the loose bits of vinyl and put it into contractors trash bags in the driveway, taped down huge sheets of black plastic over the still partially tar/vinyl covered floors, and went to bed. Boy, I thought, we made great progress! We’ll be done next weekend for sure! Wrong again!

The next weekend dawned and I woke up at 7 am determined to finish the kitchen. I decided to focus on the area by the bedroom door where I figured I’d be able to get up the sheet vinyl in a few hours. I was wrong… (seeing a trend here?). I worked on that nearly all day and then spent the next day at the tool rental store asking for help with a machine. The tool rental store told me to forget it though. They had nothing that would help remove sheet vinyl and tar based adhesive without destroying the wood floor beneath. In fact, they recommended straight acetone to take up the stubborn tar and remaining vinyl (see that stubborn bit by the sink?).

Berrybrier | Kitchen Floor Part 1.jpg

So, I went to Home Depot and bought acetone. Poured it on the tar and tried scraping and watched it evaporate while doing absolutely nothing to the tar. I’m going to be honest here and let you know how incredibly discouraging this was. I was trying to think of alternate solutions and how I could possibly do something else in the kitchen. Tile? Painted plywood? Something had to be better than this heartbreaking view of tar mastic.

Berrybrier | Tar Mastic.jpg

In my heart though, I knew the original wood floors were the best solution – not the easiest solution, no, but the best one for me, for this house, and for the direction I want to take it. I was determined and ready for the next plan of action. I spent some time googling and found this product at Home Depot. 747 Plus – according to the reviews – basically liquifies tar cutback to the point where you can squeegee it into one spot in the room and scoop it up using absorbent kitty litter. The many reviews were mainly positive. The packaging explicitly stated it was designed to remove tar adhesives. It sounded like a godsend. Like there was light at the end of this tunnel! A wood floor under all this black tar! Spoiler alert: it did not work as advertised. But you’re not surprised are you?

The next weekend (my third in a row dedicated to the kitchen floors). I pulled off all the black plastic covering the floors. This was going to work! I told myself. This is finally the solution! Many of the reviews stated to spray on the 747 Plus and leave for 4-6 hours before trying to scrape. I decided to try this first. I sprayed everything down and left the house to run some errands.

When I returned the tar didn’t look like liquid, but it was shinier on top, almost melted looking. By spreading cat litter and using a handheld scraper I could scrape the shiny, melty layer of the tar off. It was not squeegee type work, it did not come off easily. It was incredibly messy, leaking through the hazmat suit and staining my knees, butt, and arms with tar. Sounds safe right? But the worst part of this? It stunk. It smelled so freaking bad. It was such a strong scent of tar it gave me a powerful headache and the entire house reeked. I left all the windows and doors open to try to air it out.

Berrybrier | Tar Supplies.jpg

Unfortunately, after hours of scraping at the slightly liquidy tar, the floors now looked even worse than when I’d begun that day.  The tar had spread over some of the exposed wood so now everything looked black and depressing. But I wanted to give the 747 Plus another chance. I opened another bottle and followed the directions perfectly, waiting the recommended time between steps. This worked no better. It was a sticky, black, horrific mess. My headache got worse. I made the floors worse! See here how on the picture on the left (from the previous weekend) you can see the wood of the floors but in the picture on the right (after the 747 Plus) the tar actually covers up that whole area too?

I finished what I could and threw in the towel. The tar was everywhere now and I’d gotten it all over the place. I took a bath that night and called my mom on the verge of tears. Luckily, my mom’s response was, “I’ll be back next weekend and we’ll try something else and tackle it together!” Otherwise I would have probably given up completely right then and there. The next weekend, my mom came up and Erik from next door came to the rescue! He brought over two machines: a big round buffer with scraper blades and a drum sander. One of these, he assured me, would save the day.

Berrybrier | Buffer.jpg

First up: the buffer machine. We plugged this guy in and Erik gave me a few minutes tutorial on how to use it. It seemed like with continued pressure in small areas it would scraped up the tar and it looked very, very easy to use. Plus not bending over and scraping would save our backs! Erik left to go work on his own many house projects and I began using the buffer machine. Or should I say, began trying to use the buffer machine. What Erik had made look easy, was in fact, really fucking hard. I literally was not strong enough to use this machine. I would turn it on and the thing would take off across the room, basically dragging me helplessly behind it. It was scary and dangerous and I immediately knew I had no business using that machine.

Not that there was really even much of an option to continue using the machine, because within a few minutes the machine blew a fuse. Yup, the shoddy electrical on the house (which was supposed to be replaced just a few weeks later on the 24th of October) could not handle the load of the buffer machine. My mom and I started trying to figure out if we could go buy and install plywood over the kitchen floors this same weekend.

Erik came back over. Erik saves the day. Again. He decides to run an extension cord from his garage, across his yard, over the fence, past my garage and into my kitchen. “Don’t give up,” he tells us. Erik decides we should try the drum sander on a part of the floor that is less covered in tar. He plugs it in and runs it over a small section a few times. Holy hedgehogs in Hades! IT ACTUALLY EXPOSED WOOD FLOORS!!!

Berrybrier | Drumsander.jpg

At this point, I was basically jumping up and down clapping my hands with glee and my mother was ready to sell me to Erik for a couple of horses and a trading agreement. We found hope! Four weeks of working on the kitchen and there was hope!

Berrybrier | Drumsander Works

Now Erik cautioned against using the drum sander on the super built up areas of tar so we returned to hand scraping what we could and pulling up rogue nails. Luckily it seemed the 747 Plus helped to soften the tar in most areas making it slightly easier to scrape. We worked at it the rest of the day and made decent, but not amazing progress. You can see here the areas I sanded with the drum sander, the areas we scraped, and the areas that were still tar covered.

Berrybrier | Unscraped Scraped Sanded.jpg

Luckily, Erik returned on Sunday and told us to just screw it and use the drum sander on the more built up areas of tar too. We happily accepted his proposal and by the end of Sunday we had this lovely and promising view!!

Berrybrier | Finally Fir Floors.jpg

Then Monday night after I got off work we sanded a little harder on some of the corners and ran the sander over the center again. I am absolutely obsessed with this drum sander by the way. It is SUPER easy to use, really fun, and not super loud or obnoxious. It’s easy to control and gets a hell of a lot done. It’s my new favorite power tool and has a hefty lead over all the other power tools I have had love affairs with.

Anyways, after our second pass things we’re looking even better. It was at this point I realized these floors could look way better than I’d originally thought. A little more work on them and I thought I’d be able to get a pretty stinkin’ close match to the floors in the rest of the house. That makes me unbelievably excited!

Left to do the next weekend (note: this was now the 5th weekend in a row I’d working on these floors) was edging the room and moving to higher grit sandpaper. Erik suggested we purchase a cheap belt sander from Harbor and Freight for this job. I now do everything he says, so of course I did exactly that. The belt sander is smaller and able to get the edges of the rooms, farther beneath the cabinets, and into the corners the belt sander can’t make it. But because there are no perfect endings, this belt sander did not work so well and the tar still wouldn’t come up and grrrr… let’s just all pull our hair out together, okay?

And all of a sudden… I was out of time to work on the floors. It was time for the bathroom to be demo’ed so the electricians could come do their work. The floors were put on pause and left in this mostly okay state… until the end of February. Yes, that’s right folks, I did not have a kitchen from early September 2017 through the first week of March 2018. So before we get back to the bathroom and before I return to this kitchen saga, let me fill you in with all the other things I had on my plate last fall… stay tuned!